Most of us have had that one doll or toy that we could not do without. It was our best friend, our confidant and never argued with us but always shared in our opinion of the world we played in. I’ll be honest; I had two dolls, Chrissy and Julie who were my best friends growing up. I have never been able to find anything like them until now. I came across this young lady and her craft and now I will introduce you to Dee B. of OffD’HookCreations and her wonderfully handmade Love Dolls.
Originally from New York, Dee now resides in MN? She has lived all over the U.S. to include living in Laurel, MD for 3 years. She began crocheting at 16 years old. She always wanted to learn to knit, as her Gran was a knitter, but she didn’t have the patience to teach her. So during her volunteering at the local hospital (she started when she was 15), one of the patients was crocheting and she asked her to please show her what she was doing. Well, she had been crocheting forever and crocheted too fast for her. The patient told her to get the book “Learn to Crochet in just one day” by Leisure Arts (yes a book long before the Internet and YouTube). She got the book the same day and was hooked. She crocheted all the time and took ALL HER projects everywhere. Imagine a high school student sitting at HS basketball and football games with a crochet project in their hand. Needless to say she was the laughing stock. UNTIL they saw her projects. She was making scarves at the time and everyone wanted one. She was no longer the laughing stock but the girl who made really cool things. She crocheted until she had her daughter then stopped for years to be a mom and wife.
What re-sparked the idea for the dolls was when she picked her hook back up after years of not crocheting when she watched a child being removed from their house by CPS (Child Protective Services), leaving everything behind. “My heart was broken!” “I was tired of looking around and seeing the misery and suffering of people less fortunate then I was/am. So I decided to help in some way, however small. I wanted to share happiness, love, & smiles with as many people as I could with my crochet dolls.” Dee B. always loved making dolls/toys, so she decided to combine her love for creating and helping others. She began giving dolls/toys to local police/fire stations, children’s hospitals, emergency rooms, domestic violence/ homeless shelters, etc., so the kids would have something comforting to hold on to. Recently her journey changed direction when she joined Instagram and people began to see her dolls. Soon she had a few requests to make her dolls available to the public. “I honored that request, but still wanted to give to my charities as well. So I switched the way I gave to charities. This allowed me to donate specific things requested, as well as dolls, clothes, and monetary donations. WHATEVER NEED I IDENTIFIED” Then her journey changed again! “I found that I was able to create special brown dolls for brown girls all over that wanted a doll that looked a little more like them. Making dolls for little brown girls has become as big a reason for my dolls, bringing a smile to a person’s face.”
“It’s been the struggle of generations of little brown girls, to not only have a doll that looks anything like them, but to have pride in and be excited to have a doll of color. For as long as I can remember, brown dolls have been unavailable, limited, or not as beautiful as dolls of a fairer complexion. For generations little brown girls have suffered with wanting to be something they are not and not seeing the beauty reflected in their mirror. I only hope to make a small difference. Maybe the commercial market will finally get it!”
Along with joining Instagram, there was a brown skin doll with braids and beads, that she made several months ago, that also helped change everything for her and made her see that she ( her dolls) could make a small difference. “A young lady that I know to have struggled dearly with her dark brown skin and kinky hair, looked at this doll and said. “She looks like me when I was little and she’s BEAUTIFUL!” She has been Proud of her dark brown skin ever since. She has looked at herself and other girls like her in a far better light, even finally seeing her beauty for what it is. FINALLY!!!! It was a POWERFUL and EMOTIONAL moment and one that changed my path forever!” Dee has always made diverse dolls; this just showed her how powerful a doll could be! Now it’s her goal to make each one more beautiful and diverse then the last.
DOLLS are so important to a girl’s development in so many ways. They can help with self-esteem issues, especially when the doll looks just like you and has all the similar characteristics (including a hated feature) They can help a young girl internalize and cope with various issues she/he may be experiencing. Doll play has long been utilized in the healing arts, and has been known to assist in significant ways.
A doll is usually a girl’s best friend when they are young. They are a cherished doll best friend, and confidante. Someone to share our joy, happiness, success, secrets, goals, ambitions, and aspirations. And sometimes they share our inner demons, pain, suffering, sorrow, and possibly tragedies. Our dolly is there through the good times and bad with constant love and support that may not be provided elsewhere. Dolls/best friends won’t tell our secrets or let us down. So often people ask me why I don’t add a smile to my dolls. Well I leave that up to their owner. Not every day is a good day. And as a young girl’s feelings and emotions change she can decide what look or mood her dolly should have. Basically the dolls mood and facial features are left up to the imagination and interpretation of their owner. I believe Dolls can have healing power and make a world of difference in the life of a young girl that wouldn’t ordinarily confide in others.
Lady Blue crotches as well and found Dee’s message of inspiration for fellow crocheters to be right on point; “Crochet because you love it and with your heart. It’s great that you can make money off the projects you create, but when it becomes more about money and less about beauty and creativity, I believe that the project can suffer. Just have fun and enjoy what you’re creating.”
Dee doesn’t really consider herself a business because her dolls are for adoption not for sale. “I want my dolls to find their forever home and be loved. I mixed the Build-A-Bear and Cabbage Patch kids concepts together.” Her dolls are what she calls cuddle size, so are 18″ approximately the size of American Girls Dolls. They come with a heart inside because they bring love to their new owner and have a set of Adoption papers. Dee started her new journey in Oct 2014, opening an Etsy store so that it was more professional.
Dee finds the community around her to be an inspiration! “My inspiration is First and foremost helping others, sharing love, a smile, happiness, changing lives, promoting and introducing Beautiful brown dolls to the mainstream, being a role model for young girls, and overall making a difference in the lives of others! The fact that I can give things to others less fortunate gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction. I help others on the daily basis any way as a profession, but now I’m able to help financially in a way I’ve never been able to help before.” She gives us an example: This fall, Deb’s was going out of business and I went and bought jeans and formal dresses in all sizes and donated them to people and shelters that I knew could utilize them. A few girls were able to go to prom this year because of the donations. I had a young lady recently that was paralyzed from the waist down and had a large Wound on her back. She was sleeping on the floor because she didn’t have a bed. I went out and purchased a bed for the young lady to help assist with her healing. Most of my donations are done anonymously; I don’t want credit or recognition for the things I do. Knowing they are done is gratifying enough. A sort of Guardian Angel. I come across people daily, in which I identify basic, personal or emotional needs and then work diligently to assist where or however I can. I won’t let a day go by without an act of kindness. I’ve adopted a sort of pay it forward concept and I view and approach each day as such. This gives me a sense of fulfillment and purpose. It makes me feel a little better about residing in a world wrought with negativity, hostility, violence, hatred, racism and pain. It helps me feel like there’s a purpose. I’m extremely proud of both my dolls and my charity work. Both give me a sense of pride and accomplishment. I am helping a new generation of girls find pride in themselves and love who they are, just the way they are. While making a difference in a community and people that are often forgotten about
Lady Blue wondered what else she did creatively and Dee responded; Do you mean creatively? Toys or stuffed animals, I can crochet anything, but I prefer my dolls because of what they stand for.
Dee’s next move will be bigger and better than ever! She wants to be able to touch more lives and inspire happiness and pride. “When I get a photo of a young girl or woman and their best friend ( my dolls), I feel like mission accomplished and that I’ve made one more person smile if even only for a short time.”
You can either Request what you want or wait until there’s a ready to sell doll on etsy. Timeframe depends when you order and how many orders I have 2-4 weeks but I’m usually under that time frame.